Nice (Film) Shootin’, Son: 25th Anniversary ROBOCOP Screening & Reunion Was A Blast
By Troy Randal Smith
Twenty five years ago, movie fans experienced a film like none they’d seen before. It was an action film, with all of the explosions, car chases, bad guys and gunplay that the category’s known for, but it was a thoughtful action film, spilling over with messages about corporate greed, societal dehumanization, and rebirth. It was violent, loud and terrifying, but it was also surprisingly funny. It was about a man who became a machine, but ended up more human than ever.
That movie was 1987’s ROBOCOP. And on Saturday night at the Texas Theatre, Dallas became Detroit 25 years later as DIFF 2012 and the Dallas Film Commission teamed up for a 25th Anniversary Screening of provocative Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s first big-budget feature in America.
Angie Bolling, Peter Weller
The event was more than just a showing; it was the first official cast and crew reunion for ROBOCOP since the film was released. More than 30 folks that worked on the film attended, including RoboCop himself—Peter Weller—as well as executive producer Jon Davison and co-writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner.
After the theater had cheered and clapped itself hoarse at every favorite catchphrase and beloved character, Weller, Davison, Neumeier and Miner took the stage for a Q&A session that revealed the affection that all four principals have for ROBOCOP.
So why was it shot in Dallas, anyway?
“[We] didn’t want to shoot in L.A. at all,” Davison said. “We went to a couple of places—we went to Dallas, and we went to Detroit—and Detroit didn’t cut it!” After the laughter died down, he continued: “Dallas had two things: it had the seedy “old Detroit” in places, and it had futuristic modern architecture. It also had good talent, both actors and technicians.”
The film’s overt religious themes were discussed, as well as its obvious debt to classic Westerns in its shooting style (pun intended) and storytelling.
“When Mike and I were writing [ROBOCOP], we talked about Frankenstein, and we talked about Jesus Christ as themes in the script.” Neumeier said. “We ended up more towards Jesus, I think.”
Michael Miner, Ed Neumeier, Jon Davison
“Oh yes, and there’s [the idea of] the corrupt town that needs to be cleaned up by the honest lawman,” Miner said.
The Q&A session ended with a question about the upcoming remake of ROBOCOP, which is currently in preproduction, will be directed by Brazilian director Jose Padilha and will star Joel Kinnaman (“The Killing”) as RoboCop.
“Foreign filmmakers look at American culture from an anthropological perspective, so it could be good,” Miner said. But Weller disagreed, saying he didn’t think a remake could ever measure up to the original. “Can they get the human story that this film had? I don’t think so.”
After the Q&A ended, Miner shared some praise for DIFF 2012. “This festival has a really cool vibe. I’m thrilled to be here.” Neumeier agreed. “These young filmmakers are great. Hollywood is spending $250 million to chase $1 billion, but the real future of film is going to come from places like Dallas.”